Rethinking the K-12 Education Debate

Education-focused nonprofit 50Can announced a groundbreaking new National Voices initiative today. The program seeks to amplify new perspectives and innovative ideas on how to improve learning for all students by opening year-long fellowship program to emerging leaders in K-12 education. The project is made possible by a grant from the Charles Koch Foundation.

In a commentary in The 74 Million, 50Can executive vice president Derrell Bradford and the Foundation’s Brennan Brown expand on the program’s unique opportunity:

The first class of National Voices fellows comprises 10 rising education leaders from across the country, providing a unique opportunity to collaborate, connect, and debate with a diverse and passionate mix of voices over the next year.

There’s no identifiable ideological strain among 50Can’s fellows because there’s no canned pedigree. The only requirements are that fellows resist the polarization of the moment, believe that families, teachers, and students have a voice in what works best, and commit to rethinking what education can mean. They have to be willing to imagine what today we cannot even fathom. As a result, libertarians and leftists, union members and reform advocates are coming together at the local level to discuss policies that will improve student well-being and allow children to develop their unique aptitude and become critical thinkers and lifelong learners.

That encouraged curiosity means discovery and all its personal and social benefits continues well after graduation.

The National Voices initiative includes fellows like Nicole Allen from SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, and Evy Jackson, a former Colorado gubernatorial education aide. Allen focuses on breaking down regulatory, legal, financial, and technical barriers to expand the availability of high-quality, flexible educational materials to students. Jackson has worked for five years to change key elements of Colorado’s school finance system and supporting families of color as they seek greater personalization and change.

The National Voices initiative was developed as Bradford realized those dedicated to improving education benefit from coming together to rethink what education can mean—and how encouraging curiosity through a child’s education can lead to life-long learning. Through that lens, the degree to which participants see things differently is a benefit, not a bug. Interested individuals can learn more about the fellowship by visiting 50Can’s site.

50Can Executive Vice President Derrell Bradford said 50Can’s mission is to ensure education creates the opportunity for every child to develop his or her unique talents and abilities. His organization doesn’t have a monopoly on the solutions that will ensure that outcome, instead, it’s committed to bringing together voices from varied perspectives to find them.

The Foundation supports partners and scholars in many fields working to understand the challenges and opportunities associated with K-12 education.

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